Case study: Unlawful assault
Court where case heard
Heidelberg Magistrates' Court, June 2022
On the day of the alleged incident, in the evening, our client was at home in his apartment with his wife and their 2 children (7 and 4) and had been arguing for several hours. The noise of their argument had disturbed neighbours who reported the noise to the police. The police attended and spoke to our client and his wife. The attending police officers received a complaint that our client had slapped his wife in the face, and he was arrested and taken to the local police station where he was served with a family violence safety notice.
Following an explanation of the family safety notice, he was then questioned about an allegation that he had slapped his wife. Although being informed at the commencement of the interview that he did not have to answer any questions and could promptly leave, he nevertheless answered all questions asked of him and in so doing made full admissions to the allegation of unlawful assault.
The police later applied for and obtained a family violence order with full conditions, this order remained in force for several months before it was varied to a limited order on a final basis (12 months). The effect of this Order was that our client remained out of the family home for several months.
Offence & penalties
Our client was charged with unlawful assault (section 23 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic)). Under section 23 the penalty for unlawful assault is 15 penalty units or imprisonment for 3 months). The case was subsequently listed for a mention at the Heidelberg Magistrates' Court, an application for diversion was refused by police, and the matter then proceeded as a plea of guilty.
How was the case prepared?
It was evident that our client had made full and early admissions, and so the objective was to mitigate the penalty. Of real concern to our client was the risk of a conviction, and the consequent adverse impact that would have upon him and his family (his income supported his wife and children).
Fortunately, our client had already engaged in counselling for mental health and was participating in the men's behaviour change program. In addition, character references were obtained.
The Court's attention was also drawn to the fact that the Family Violence Order had been varied to allow our client and his wife to live together on a limited order. Moreover, there had been no breaches of the Order in the preceding 7 months.
After submissions and the tendering of documents evidencing his rehabilitation, and documents that supported our contention that he was otherwise a man of good character, the Magistrate was persuaded not to record a conviction and placed our client on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour and to complete the men's behaviour changer course, and to pay $500 to the court fund.